A Preview of the AGO’s Groundbreaking New Caribbean Photo Collection

Valentine & Sons, A Boat on Kingston Harbor (variation), 1891. Albumen print, 21.6 x 26.7 cm. Gift of Patrick Montgomery, 2019.

The Art Gallery of Ontario currently holds the largest known collection of Caribbean historical photographs outside the region. The collection of more than 3,500 photographs was gifted by collector Patrick Montgomery after he spent years collecting the photos from various archives outside the Caribbean, held in former colonial metropoles such as the UK and France. Although there have been exhibitions of Caribbean photographs from the 1970s onward, this collection at AGO marks an important time period the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Leah Sandals for Canadian Arts documents this historical acquisition and speaks with curator Julie Crooks on the importance of these photographs.

“One thing I really want people to know about is the donors. Because without them we wouldn’t have the collection. They came on board right away when we presented the work. They saw this as a way of bringing this history into a Canadian institution. In the same way as it’s a Canadian story, it’s also a Caribbean story, and vice versa, because of Canada’s immigration history. And now this is a legacy project to build on.” - Julie Crooks